Innovative Imaging: How the latest breast cancer screening is sa - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Innovative Imaging: How the latest breast cancer screening is saving lives

(Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM) (Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM)
(Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM) (Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM)
(Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM) (Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM)
(Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM) (Source: Matt Clegg/WTVM)
(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

More than 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States this year alone and of those cases, more than 40,000 women will die of the disease. 

But a diagnosis of cancer does not have to be a death sentence.

Forty-five years ago, breast cancer was the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., but over the years those numbers have continued to fall largely due to better screening technology and improved therapy and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus is helping lead the way.

"With current digital technology, we see things a lot better now with the latest tomography where its multiple slices through different parts of the breast," says Dr. Roland Wong, Diagnostic Radiologist at St. Francis Hospital.

Those so-called "slices" through 3-D mammography, or tomography as it’s called, gives doctors a more detailed look allowing them to see abnormalities and potential cancers that years ago may not have been seen.

This technology has only been in use for a few years with the St. Francis Center for Breast Health among the first in the region to offer it.

"An analogy would be going into the forest and trying to find a bird, if you're looking from outside the forest it would be hard to find that bird whereas if you go into the forest and look up and down your chances of finding that bird are better and that's what tomography is. It offers about a 30 to 40 percent increase in cancer detection rate compared to the regular digital mammography," says Dr. Wong.

That 3-D technology pinpointed an abnormality in Newsleader 9's Barbara Gauthier's routine mammogram.

Doctors saw what they describe as calcification, or a calcium build up in Barbara's left breast. Because that can be an indicator of cancer, doctors ordered a whole breast ultrasound - also technology that St. Francis was the first to provide in the state of Georgia.

It's news thousands of women get every year, a mammogram shows something that needs further testing.

In most cases, as was for Barbara, the next step is a biopsy to determine if what they're seeing is cancer. Fortunately for Barbara, the results came back negative. Doctors say even though it's difficult to hear there may be something wrong, regular mammograms are key to finding and curing breast cancer.

"The earlier diagnosis of breast cancer the better the prognosis in the long run but it’s understandable people are going to be afraid and sometimes they tend to want to put things off because they are afraid and that’s just the wrong thing to do," says breast cancer surgeon Dr. Charles Scarborough of the St. Francis Center for Surgical Care. 

Fifty-four-year-old Jeane Schomburg calls herself the "team mom" of St. Francis's Orthopedic Institute. Her actual title is Practice Director of the center.

Last year Schomburg was diagnosed with stage 2-B breast cancer after discovering a lump in her breast. She'd had mammograms faithfully each year, so doctors caught her cancer early, giving Jeane the best possible outcome.

"Once I had the definitive diagnosis things moved very quickly and I was able to have all these other additional tests done within a month and actually receive chemotherapy the first day of April. So the plan was put into place very quickly so I feel very fortunate," Schomburg says.

Dr. Scarborough says Jeane's positive outcome is more of the norm these days than the exception. 

"The vast majority of patients we see today with early stage breast cancer are going to be cured with appropriate treatment," Dr. Scarborough says. "Mammography in my view saves more lives than anything contrary to some of the things you're hearing nationally now. Everybody over the age of 40 should be having mammograms every year. We see 15 to 20 cancers each year maybe more that skipped a mammogram one year and then it showed up."

Jeane is just one surgery away from completing her treatment and finally, she says her hair is growing back from chemotherapy.

She hopes her story will convince other women to be proactive about their health making sure to get regular mammograms. She says it's important to remember that even if something shows up, the sooner you find it the better.

"Early intervention is so important because it is treatable. The pathways are very defined, they work and life is too short. We don't want to lose any more than you have to," says Schomburg.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women have an annual mammogram between the ages of 45 and 55 and every two years after that if they are in good health. Breast cancer is not limited to women, the lifetime risk for men is about one in 1000.

Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved. | For more news, download the WTVM app here

  • LocalMore>>

  • Winners drawn in Heart Raffle at Mercedes-Benz fundraiser

    Winners drawn in Heart Raffle at Mercedes-Benz fundraiser

    Sunday, January 21 2018 3:10 PM EST2018-01-21 20:10:26 GMT
    (Source: Tony Sloan/WTVM)(Source: Tony Sloan/WTVM)
    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It's a lucky day for two people in the Columbus area who won the 2018 Heart Raffle. It's the 15th year of the event and representatives of Mercedes Benz says that this year's raffle is its biggest yet. "To date, we've raised over six-hundred thousand for the Heart Association. It's the fifteenth year we've done this and the most successful year. We sold 2,515 tickets which is all that we have to offer," says Mercedes of Columbus GM Richard Joyner...More >>
    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It's a lucky day for two people in the Columbus area who won the 2018 Heart Raffle. It's the 15th year of the event and representatives of Mercedes Benz says that this year's raffle is its biggest yet. "To date, we've raised over six-hundred thousand for the Heart Association. It's the fifteenth year we've done this and the most successful year. We sold 2,515 tickets which is all that we have to offer," says Mercedes of Columbus GM Richard Joyner...More >>
  • Family honors cold case victim 20 years after her death

    Family honors cold case victim 20 years after her death

    Sunday, January 21 2018 3:43 PM EST2018-01-21 20:43:56 GMT
    (Source: Family)(Source: Family)
    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It's a murder case gone cold for 20 years. Columbus Police Department investigators said they're still working to find out who shot and killed 37-year-old Laura Mae Chaney in 1998.   Chaney's body was discovered early morning on Jan. 4 - her body, riddled with bullets outside an apartment in what was then called Peabody Apartments off Talbotton Road. The neighborhood has since been remodeled and named Ashley Station. CPD...More >>
    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It's a murder case gone cold for 20 years. Columbus Police Department investigators said they're still working to find out who shot and killed 37-year-old Laura Mae Chaney in 1998.   Chaney's body was discovered early morning on Jan. 4 - her body, riddled with bullets outside an apartment in what was then called Peabody Apartments off Talbotton Road. The neighborhood has since been remodeled and named Ashley Station. CPD...More >>
  • UPDATE: Missing Columbus 14-year-old located

    UPDATE: Missing Columbus 14-year-old located

    Sunday, January 21 2018 11:56 PM EST2018-01-22 04:56:33 GMT

    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) The Special Victims Unit of the Columbus Police Department is issuing a critical missing persons alert for a 14-year-old.  Michael Burgett was last seen in the area of the 3700 block of 18th Ave. on Sunday. Burgett was wearing a black t-shirt with white writing, blue jean shorts and red high-top tennis shoes.  Police are now asking for the public's help in tracking this missing teen down. Anyone with information on Burgett's location is asked to contact...

    More >>

    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) The Special Victims Unit of the Columbus Police Department is issuing a critical missing persons alert for a 14-year-old.  Michael Burgett was last seen in the area of the 3700 block of 18th Ave. on Sunday. Burgett was wearing a black t-shirt with white writing, blue jean shorts and red high-top tennis shoes.  Police are now asking for the public's help in tracking this missing teen down. Anyone with information on Burgett's location is asked to contact...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly